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The Best of times…

I remember watching George Best play at Patrick Thistle in a testimonial for Thistle stalwart Donnie Mackinnon.

George, well there was nothing he couldn’t do and I realised that my topic of Sipps was so similar, or will be after April 6, 2005.

No boundaries (apart from wasting assets) and the danger that those with savvy will dump property on the unwary by using the disguise of a Sipp. There are basically three schools of thought.1: Leave Sipps alone, promoted by Compliance Paranoia Inc.2: Sipps should not be regula-ted but their contents should.3: Sipps should be regulated.

Leave Sipps alone, this is not even worth discussing. Can we support a market where some pensions are regulated and some are not? We are trying to build confidence, not reduce it.

Sipps should not be regulated but their contents should. This is a wish not to be regulated rather than looking at the enormous logistical issues.

If we had a finite list of potential investments it may be worthy of discussion, but we don’t. What we have is a limitless range of investments. Setting rules for their sale, monitoring and suitability is a non-starter. If this were accepted, it would take a long time to put it into effect.

What has still to be discussed is competency. As the often ill-informed debate over section 32 has demonstrated, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. We cannot allow property developers to promote Sipps through the back door. How would we feel if wine merchants started to suggest that Sipps are the ideal home for your cellar investments?

We have already seen stamp dealers suggesting that this could be a re birth for more significant collectors. Last but not least, antiques, you can never fully provide evidence the ownership of an item, as would be found in a typical auction. Just how does that leave the providers of the Sipp?

Simplification is nothing of the sort and Sipps are like matches- safe when handled carefully, dangerous if not.

So far, the FSA has not detailed specific competence for advising on pensions after A-Day. May I suggest that if an IFA has not passed the Chartered Insurance Institute’s exam on pension simplification but is advising on A-Day matters, then their firm is taking on a substantial additional risk.

We need Sipps regulated and only advised on by competent individuals.


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